House judiciary committee advances bill to modify firearm waiting period rules

by | Feb 21, 2024

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday advanced legislation that seeks to amend the current firearm purchase waiting period by allowing conditional firearm delivery from Federal Firearms Licensees if a background check remains inconclusive after three days.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday advanced legislation (HB 17) that would alter the waiting period requirements for firearm purchases from Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs).

The bill, carried by Rep. Joel Rudman, would effectively reduce the mandatory waiting period for all firearm purchases made from FFLs by declaring that it would expire three days after the purchase, irrespective of whether a background check has been completed.

If adopted, the measure would grant conditional approval for the purchaser to take delivery of a firearm if the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is unable to determine eligibility within the three-day period. If it is later discovered that the purchaser is not authorized to possess a firearm, FDLE is required to notify the ATF and a local law enforcement agency for retrieval of the firearm.

“HB 17 simply clarifies how long a citizen can be forced to wait before they receive transfer of their legally purchased firearm through an FFL dealer,” Rudman told the committee. “It does not remove background checks. It does not remove mandatory three day waiting period.”

The bill does, however, retain current exceptions to the three-day waiting period for individuals with a concealed weapons license, those trading in another firearm, and those purchasing a rifle or shotgun under specified conditions.

Currently, federal law allows FFLs to transfer firearms to purchasers who have successfully completed a background check. If the check is not completed within three business days, the firearm can be transferred by default unless state law specifies otherwise.

Florida law, however, mandates that a firearm cannot be transferred until FDLE confirms the purchaser is not prohibited from purchasing a firearm, with no provision for unresolved background checks.

Lawmakers sitting on the committee rose concerns regarding the granting of a weapon before a background check can be completed.

“If [the background check] is not approved in those three days, for whatever reason we have a breakdown in our computer systems or something. Do you still get to get that weapon without having that approval?” Asked Rep. Dianne Hart, to which Rudman answered affirmatively.

Gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action also appeared before the committee in an attempt to urge lawmakers to vote down on the bill. Jacqueline Valentine, a member of the organization, told members of her daughter, who died by suicide using a gun acquired without a background check. Valentine argued that if one had been conducted, she may not have been able to access the firearm.

“A background check probably would have helped her not get that gun,” she said. So for that reason, as a survivor, I’m saying have the three day background check. If the system’s broken, fix the system but don’t delay or decrease the reason for the system.”

Proponents of the bill also spoke, asserting that the bill would bring Florida in line with federal law.

“This has been federal law since the 1990s,” said Luis Valdez, representing Gun Owners of America. “We have seen throughout numerous states individuals who are law abiding citizens have their rights delayed because they are misidentified as someone else. Furthermore, you have the risk of political prosecution in which an individual could have their rights delayed and outright denied by slow-rolling a background check.”

Chris Smith, the owner of Gulf Coast Gun stated that by imposing a specific timeframe on FDLE to complete checks, the bill would address issues where individuals with concealed weapons permits experienced significant delays.

“Over the last five years I’ve had 500 People with concealed weapons permits held up over six months they had concealed weapons permits over six months could not purchase a firearm because a government entity has an infinite amount of time to hold their background check,” said Smith.

This month, it was reported that the Florida Senate is expected to reject, for the second consecutive year, a proposal to lower the minimum age for purchasing rifles and shotguns from 21 to 18, maintaining the restriction set after the 2018 Parkland school shooting.


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